When you’re delving into a new industry for the first time, it’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer mass of information and counterinformation available. You might have an idea of what you’re looking for or in need of but have no sense of where to begin looking or how to know if something is legitimate or not. When it comes to highly sought-after products, things can get even more confusing.
There are high-end and low-end options, fakes, reproductions, and originals to filter through, and some of the fakes are pretty darn good. The following will explore a few things you might want to keep in mind if you’re trying to determine the quality of just one highly sought-after product in particular: hand-knotted rugs.
What Is A Hand-Knotted Rug?
Before you start your search for the perfect rug to tie your whole room together, it might first prove useful to explore what a hand-knotted rug actually is. In the broadest sense, a rug is a textile designed to cover the floor that often has an upper layer of piling that is attached to a backing. A rug with a knotted pile is one that has raised surfaces (piles) from the ends of knots that have been woven between the warp and weft parts of a textile.
The two most popular types of knotting are called the Ghiordes/Turkish knot and the Senneh/Persian knot. Hand knotting, therefore, refers to the process of tying the knots that make up the rug by hand using a loom rather than having the knots be tied by a machine.
The technique originated thousands of years ago in Central Asia and can often be found in Oriental or Persian rugs today. The finished product typically has thousands of tiny, handmade knots tied in place by someone with years of expertise. The process of knot tying results in a rug that is very strong and incredibly durable.
Before you even begin to examine the aesthetic appeal of a rug or the knotting work, you might want to first learn about the fibres or yarns used to craft the rug. There are synthetic options and natural options, and almost always, if you’re looking for a higher-quality product, you’re looking for a natural material. Synthetic materials like polyester typically have plastic within them, and this is bad for the planet and your health. Synthetic materials are also almost always less aesthetically pleasing.
The most popular natural option for a hand-knotted rug is probably wool. Wool is incredibly durable, can be dyed with ease, and is also a relatively abundant and sustainable resource if the environmental aspects of your selection are part of your decision-making process. Wool tends to be one of the more expensive options for hand-knotted rugs.
Other possible natural materials include: cotton, silk, bamboo, jute, or blends involving several different natural fibres. Sometimes one natural material like wool will be used, but then silk will be used for the detailing. When choosing between natural material options, think about the textures already present in the room decor and find a rug that compliments the vibe of the room you’re looking to place it in. The rug will hold people’s focus both visually and sensually when they walk across it so the texture is very important.
Study The Knots
Once you’re pleased with the material, you want to get up close and personal and look at the actual knots themselves. When knots are tied by hand, there will be slight imperfections in evenness. When tied by a machine, the knots tend to be perfectly, unnaturally identical throughout the entire rug. Moreover, hand-knotted rugs tend to have extremely tightly tied knots.
Another factor to keep in mind when looking for a high-quality hand-knotted rug is the number of knots per square inch. Typically, having 400 or more knots per square inch is the lower bar for quality, but don’t let that number hold you to one idea. Some hand-knotted Oriental rugs of high quality have over 1000 knots in each squared inch. Not only does the density of the knotting result in a consistent appearance to the rug, but it’s a good indicator of a durable rug: the more knots, usually the longer-lasting.
The next thing you’re going to want to examine when looking for a high-quality hand-knotted rug is the backside of the rug. Hand-knotted rugs traditionally don’t have a backing (the bottom looks just like a rug or perhaps an inverted image of the top of the rug in regards to the colours used for each shape or image).
Rugs manufactured with machines typically have some sort of latex coating that holds the tufts of the rug into place. They might also have canvas or some other type of fabric covering the latex layer. A good rule of thumb is to assume that if something that’s advertised as a hand-knotted rug has a backing, it’s likely not actually hand-knotted.
Compare The Front And Back
While you’re looking behind the rug, take a moment to consider how accurately the back and front of the rug reflect each other. The more symmetry in this regard (i.e. the patterning is exactly the same on the front and the back), the higher the chance that the rug was actually hand-knotted and, therefore, the higher the chance that it’s a good quality rug. You might want to take a photograph of one side with your phone and then flip it over and compare the image to what you see before you.
Next, look at the rug’s fringes. The fringe can offer an excellent indication of rug quality as, in many cases, rugs that are machine-manufactured have fringes that are sewn on once the rug is completed. A hand-knotted rug, in comparison, has fringes that are a continuation of the actual threads used in the knotting process. Fringes are not simply decorative; they’re the result of a functional need to tie off the fibres used in the hand-knotting process.
The above information should help you navigate the world of hand-knotted rugs. It’s okay to take your time and find something that meets these standards and really speaks to you. Rugs have an uncanny ability to finish off the feeling of a room, and the wrong rug can produce the wrong feeling. Narrow your choices down to a few providers of high-quality rugs, and then look for the colours and patterns that suit your space.